The House in Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union had under consideration the bill (H.R. 2021) to amend the Clean Air Act regarding air pollution from Outer Continental Shelf activity:
* Mr. FARR. Madam Chair, I rise in strong opposition to H.R. 2021, the Jobs and Energy Permitting Act. Since the beginning of the 112th Congress, my Republican colleagues have been relentless in their attempts to weaken offshore drilling regulations and to preserve wasteful and unnecessary subsidies to the most profitable oil corporations in the world. While Americans are facing serious pain at the pump, in the first quarter of 2011, the five biggest oil companies have made a total combined profit of $35 billion. Yet, as these companies break record profits, the Republican leadership insists that we continue to hand these companies billions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies.
* H.R. 2021 is just another blatant attack on human health and the environment in an attempt to shield outrageous Big Oil profits. This bill seeks to evade Clean Air Act standards intended to protect our air and health by allowing the oil companies to pollute as much as they want from their offshore operations. Secondly, this anti-environment piece of legislation would block the right of California and other states to enforce more rigorous emissions standards on vessels servicing an offshore operation. It seems ironic that my colleagues who are arguing against big government now want to take away states' rights to protect their residents from dirty local air.
* I strongly support the need to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. However, H.R. 2021 is not the answer. I am extremely disappointed that my Republican colleagues continue to dismiss renewable sources of energy as part of the solution. The renewable energy sector has the potential to support hundred of thousands of jobs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The number of jobs in the solar industry, for example, doubled from 2009 to 2010. However, in the Fiscal Year 2012 Energy and Water Subcommittee Appropriations bill, Republicans have proposed draconian cuts to programs that focus on energy efficiency research and renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind. The proposed cut of $1.895 billion to the Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program is simply unacceptable. These cuts to alternative energy programs and the numerous pro-Big Oil bills, such as H.R. 2021, that have been introduced in the 112th Congress indicate that the Republicans do not support a comprehensive solution to rising gas prices, ending America's foreign dependence on oil, and creating jobs.
* My fellow Democrats attempted to improve H.R. 2021 by offering ten different amendments, but the Republicans rejected each and every one, including an amendment that would maintain California's ability to set its own emissions standards. Unfortunately this Republican desired top-down approach will degrade air quality along the coast of California, causing health costs to soar with increasing incidence of respiratory illnesses.
* Madam Chair, the quality of the air we breathe and the health of my constituents is of utmost importance. For this reason, I do not support this legislation, and I voted ``no'' on H.R. 2021.